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Shaheen raises $1.44 million as senator ramps up for 2020 re-election

For the Monitor
Published: 4/9/2019 3:17:17 PM

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen announced Tuesday she raised $1.4 million in the first three months of the year as she seeks re-election next year.

The Democratic senator added that her campaign has more than $1.5 million cash on hand as of April 1.

The Shaheen campaign touted what they pointed to as the senator’s grassroots appeal, noting in an email that 92 percent of her contributions were less than $200 and that more than 8,600 individuals contributed.

And the campaign spotlighted that the senator “raised more money than any other candidate in New Hampshire history for this quarter respectively.”

Campaign cash, along with polling, is an important early barometer that gauges a candidate’s popularity and clout. The fundraising figures are often analyzed and scrutinized by political pundits.

Shaheen, a former three-term governor, announced in January that she was running for third six-year term representing New Hampshire in the U.S. Senate.

The then-Gov. Shaheen first ran for the Senate in 2002, losing to Rep. John. E. Sununu. But she defeated Sununu in the 2008 rematch and won re-election in 2014 against the GOP challenger, former Sen. Scott Brown.

The $1.44 million Shaheen raised in the first quarter of this year is slightly ahead of the $1.17 she brought in during the same period in 2013, as she geared up for her 2014 re-election. Overall, the senator hauled in more than $14 million in contributions as she ran for a second term, according to data from the Federal Election Commission.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu – the former senator’s younger brother – last month opened the door a bit to the possibility of taking on Shaheen next year rather than running for re-election.

“I don’t rule anything out,” the governor said when asked by the Monitor if he would rule out a GOP challenge against Shaheen.

If Sununu eventually decides to launch a Senate bid, it would give the GOP a high profile and popular candidate who could mount a competitive race against Shaheen, who’s also popular among Granite Staters.

The two-term governor had previously said he had “absolutely no interest” in running for Senate.

Two public opinion surveys released earlier this year indicated a hypothetical matchup between Shaheen and Sununu would be tied.

Sununu highlighted that “one thing that was evident of those polls is people in the state want someone other than Jeanne Shaheen ... I think the mandate is very clear. They want someone other than Jeanne Shaheen. Whether it’s myself or another candidate, she’s very vulnerable.”

Sununu’s comments generated a lot of buzz among some Republican Party officials in Washington, who would love to play offense in the 2020 cycle as they defend their 53-47 majority in the Senate. Twenty-two of the 34 seats up for grabs next year are held by the GOP.

Two of the top non-partisan political handicappers – the Cook Political Report and Inside Elections – currently rate Shaheen’s seat as “solid Democrat” and “likely Democrat.”

Former speaker of the New Hampshire House Bill O’Brien is also mulling a Senate run.

It’s highly unlikely that former senator Kelly Ayotte, who narrowly lost her 2016 re-election to then Gov. Maggie Hassan, would run make a bid next year to return to the Senate.

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